Category Archives: nifty

It’s a historic day

So, today was officially the first day for gay marriages.  Same-sex marriages.  Whatever you want to call them.  According to the little poll in the Poway Times, over 60% of people (who actually answered the poll) were against this court decision.  I say, who cares?  Let everyone have the chance fora state-recognized, legal union with a certificate and everything.  I kind of looked at a few pictures (look at all the happy people!) and it’s left me wondering who did the decorations?  You’d think to celebrate the occasion they could have brought in a totally fabulous designer to dress the place up a little more in line with the target audience.

I mean, George Takei got to get married today!  He’s so happy now!  How is that wrong?

Puppy sitting

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We have been watching 2 of my mom’s dogs while she is touring through Japan with my sister.  Just the two youngest dogs, one of which is really still a puppy.  Maya is a Beaglier, which I call a mutt, but I suppose she’s just on her way to becoming a designer dog.  Part Beagle, part Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, all cute.  Her coloring and her ears are totally Spaniel, but her tail is all Beagle and sometimes when she’s walking around, she reminds me more of a Beagle than a Spaniel.

I love all puppies, but I think I love Maya because she is like a little dog.  She plays and run and acts silly.  My mom’s other dogs are Maltese and really just like to sit still and look at you.  Maya only sits still if she has something to chew on.  My mom says she’s too smart and gets into too much trouble.  All my pups got into trouble when they were little, so maybe that’s why Maya and I get along so well – I understand how to think one step ahead of her.  She can’t help it, she’s just exploring!

My dad taught her how to sit in just a few hours.  I tried teaching her to lie down, but it’s hard with so many other dogs waiting for that treat!  She figured out how to come in through the doggy door, and just the other night I saw her go out the doggy door to look for a chewy that Sadie had just abandoned.  Smart dog!  If only she would take herself out for potty breaks.  But, she’s still a puppy.  She’s just not there yet.

She’s a funny puppy.  She likes to round up toys and chew treats so they’re all around her.  Never mind she can only chew on one at a time.  They’re all hers and you’d better not bother her!  Sadie seems to like her.  At least, she doesn’t mind having her ears chewed!

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So far, we’ve only had accidents when they got loose from the kitchen while we were at work.  Every other time I’ve been able to take them outside on a regular schedule.  I’m also a big fan of crate training, so if we can’t watch them 100%, into the crate they go.  T learned the hard way that puppies definitely pee the second your head is turned, even if you’re sure they won’t.  If I had Maya longer, she’d be perfectly housetrained, I have no doubt.  Between the crate and learning from the “big dogs”, she’s pick it up in no time.

T says I’m already attached to her and how will I give her back?  I do love this little pup and she is so cute I want to gobble her up, but I also look forward to returning to a non-puppy lifestyle.  Where no one has to worry about getting home in time to let them out or feed them dinner.  Where we don’t have to keep an eye on where the puppy is all the time.  Where I’m not constantly getting up (sometimes in the middle of the night) to take someone out to potty.  In the cold.  I’ll certainly miss sleepy puppy yawns, though.

The nice thing about watching the dogs is that I get a lot of time to watch tv.  SaSa just likes to curl up on the couch, so as long as someone’s there she’ll stay put.  Maya will stay put as long as you give her enough toys and then eventually she falls asleep.  Aww… soft warm sleeping puppy…

As puppies go, she really is a good one.  And it’s been nice to see that raising a puppy isn’t quite as much work as I remember.  This is good because as soon as we’re down to 2 dogs, T gets his Boston Terrier.  And because it’ll be “his” dog, I think I get to slack off on all the running around that comes with puppies.  I’ll just enjoy the cuddling.

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bloggy giveaway!

The Clean Plate Club is giving away a $50 gift card to Williams-Sonoma, if you blog about it and submit a comment (on their website, not mine) by April 30th.  I think that’s pretty cool.  I would have a lot of trouble deciding what to buy at WS… I’d run into that problem where I’d pick up so many things the total bill would be hundreds of dollars.  So, having browsed online, here are a few things I think I could limit myself to:

  • Le Creuset Mini Cocotte – I have a 5-quart, non-Le Creuset dutch oven that does a great job with braising, but I think it would be nice to have a little one for times I don’t want to braise 2 heads of cabbage or a 9-pound chicken.  You know, a little pot of food just for me.
  • Calphalon Square Grill Pan – Now this would be a total splurge, too.  Something I would not typically purchase because I can accomplish almost the same thing with my current pans.  But this one has high sides, which would help with any splatter, and can’t you just see an awesome, golden, crusty panini coming out of there?
  • Baking Stone – I currently don’t have a baking stone.  I bake any no-knead breads in my dutch oven (that’s preheated in the oven), which takes care of holding heat and moisture to get the fast rise and crispy crust.  We make pizza on the grill because it’s much faster, so I haven’t yet really needed a baking stone.  But I know they help regulate the temperature of the oven during baking, so if I had extra money (or a gift card) I might be convinced to pick one up.
  • Waffle Maker – I do love a good waffle on Sunday mornings and this one makes 2 square waffles at a time, meaning T and I could both eat at the same time.  While waiting for the second round of waffles, of course.
  • Food – Other than cookware, bakeware, or fancy appliances, I would definitely take a gift card and buy some of the various sauces, mixes, and jars from Willams-Somona.  I know it seems like cheating to cook out of a jar, but if you’re going to do it don’t you think you should go for the high-end stuff?

What about you?  What would you do with a $50 gift card?  What are you currently coveting?

Barbeques Galore Outdoor Cooking School

For Christmas, one of the things I bought for T was a class at the new Barbeques Galore in 4S Ranch (not Forest Ranch, people). The new store allowed them to include room for their Outdoor Cooking School, which is a little misleading since the class is held inside. But, all the recipes can be made on a grill. And when I say all, I mean all. Even creme brulee. The class is taught by Carissa Giacalone, who came in third in the first season of The Next Food Network Star (the one that gave us Guy Fiore).

The “classroom” seats 12, but we only had 10 in our class. There really isn’t a bad seat and it’s like sitting at the kitchen bar while your friend cooks you dinner. It’s pretty cool. Carissa is really nice and friendly and answers any question you throw at her. I imagine the tone of the class varies hugely depending on who is there. We had a group of 6 friends, another couple, and then us. You get a list of all the recipes shown in the class, a Viking brochure, and 15% off anything in the store that night. You can also bring in your own wine or beer, something we didn’t know ahead of time but will pay attention to if we take another class there. The guy at the other end of the bar went through his first bottle of wine before we even got through the second dish. So, you know, some people are there more for their friends than for the cooking lessons.

We took the Entertaining with Easy and Elegant Dishes class and the dishes were certainly pretty easy and elegant looking, especially with the plating techniques and garnishes. You get to eat everything she cooks and we were pretty full at the end of the class. It’s actually more than a bite of each dish, but way less than, say, and appetizer portion. The soup was plentiful, we had one scallop, two lamb chops, a handful of the potatoes, and everyone got their own creme brulee (which was one of the best I’ve ever tasted).

The class is really designed for the lowest common denominator. If you’re at all comfortable in a kitchen, you probably won’t learn anything new from these classes, aside from some recipes and maybe garnishing ideas. That is me being snobby, because I felt like an accomplished chef next to my “classmates”, but I still had a really fun time. And I was impressed with all the foods that you can do on a grill, even if I would probably still do most of the dishes on the stove or in an oven. I think the idea is to just get people thinking about all the things they can do on a grill, besides sausages and hamburgers and chicken wings. I could totally see us cooking a full meal outside in the summer, around a fire pit, if we ever get the backyard patio concept done. So, that’s a cool idea – cooking everything from appetizers to dessert at your bbq, without having to run inside, away from your guests, and serving a fancier dessert than grilled pineapple (which is awesome in its own right, by the way). Especially here in San Diego, where our summer nights are gorgeous and meant for enjoying outside.

The Barbeques Galore cooking class is not hands-on; you basically sit, watch, drink, and eat. Oh, and shop. A lot of the gadgets Carissa uses are sold in the store (15% off), just “out the door and to the left” – they set up a display island featuring the rubs and tools she uses for each class. If you want a technique class, or something where you’ll learn how to prepare fancy dishes, this isn’t the school for you. But, if you want a fun class with dishes you might actually make back at home, I think you’d enjoy it.

Miscellaneous etcetera

Let’s see… right about now I should be somewhere along Mammoth Mountain, hopefully surviving the lift deboarding.  Really, getting off the lift is the most hazardous part of my snowboarding trips.  I can get down the mountain like a champ.  Sometimes, I can even execute a turn without getting stuck.  I still don’t do jumps or hops, though.  But getting off the lift?  Without falling or crashing into something/someone?  Let’s just say that the thought of the ski lift fills me with dread and worry and more stress than anything else on the mountain.

So, Google tells me that a lot of people find my site looking for “american eskimo dog” or some variation of that phrase.  Strangely, it seems like a lot of people are also looking for advice on shaving their American Eskimo dog.  Either that, or it’s just one person and they keep Googling to see if someone else’s page pops up.  I have never shaved Lexi, but we did shave Cassie last year.  She has very thick fur and the undercoat had gotten very matted – beyond brushing.  So, we took the logical step of shaving her fur so we could, in theory, start over from step one.  Let me just say this, if you are planning to shave your pretty American Eskimo, please understand that it may take the better part of a year for her soft fur to grow back in.  Cassie’s coarse fur has grown back, but her silky undercoat, the part that makes her soft and fluffy, is lagging.  She still looks cute, and we just pet her head a lot, but I do hope the rest of her coat comes back in okay.

People also come here looking for information on Mr. Hummos in Poway.  Trust me, I would love to know more, too.  So, if you get there before me, let me know what you think.  I’m trying to make it over there for food soon, we just haven’t had the time!

There are also some contests I should tell you about.  Swiffer, they of the environmentally-unfriendly yet awesome-at-collecting-dust cloths, is holding a video contest.  It’s called the “Swiffer Break-up Music Video Contest” and the Grand Prize is $15,000.  In conjunction with YouTube, you pick one of 10 “break-up” songs for your video and tell Swiffer how you left your old cleaning products for their neato cool stuff.  Upload the video by January 30, 2008 and then the general public will vote for their favorite clip.

The second thing really isn’t a contest.  If you sign up for the Fiber One newsletter, you can also choose to get a free sample of their new cereal, which is supposed to be high in fiber but low in calories.  Sign up here for the newsletter.

Also, the Deep Chocolate Vitatops are growing on me.  They still don’t fill the chocolate chip cookie craving, but they do make for a pretty good snack at work.  I’ve been trying to eat a small snack before lunch and then in the afternoon so I’m not starving at lunch and when I get home.  So, some fruit and a Vitatop are pretty good, especially since the Vitatop is only 100 calories.  Just make sure you have some hot tea or something to help wash it down.  Not that it tastes bad, but it’s a little dense – much like drinking milk to wash down brownies.  I’m still scared of the Fudgy Peanut Butter ones.  Perhaps I will give it another shot next week.

And, finally, if you are looking for information on Siberian Husky puppies, let me assure you that I don’t think my husky is at all typical.  I think most huskies are more energetic and maybe a little smarter.  Sadie is a little slow to catch on (like when the other two are already wolfing down food in the kitchen) and she seems pretty happy sleeping on the couch, but she’s a really good dog.  She sometimes gets a little too interested in Clair, but a bat to the head gets her to back off (Clair bats, I don’t).  So, when you hear people say that huskies and small non-dog animals don’t mix, it’s something to seriously take into consideration.